What Can I Do With a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)?

College Resources

Prospective students that are pursuing a career path as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) must acquire a Master of Science in Nursing degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice if they wish to be certified as a nurse practitioner. A student must have earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing first before advancing to a DNP or PhD program. The Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP, is the pinnacle of training and education in regards to becoming a nurse, and is requisite for many different career choices.

Now that you’ve earned your Doctor of Nursing Practice, it’s time to choose a career path. There are opportunities in both administrative and practical fields. From management and leadership positions to becoming a nurse-midwife or anesthetist, a DNP offers you a wide range of possible job options in the field of nursing.

What is a DNP?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice is a terminal degree in the field of nursing practice. This means that it is one of the highest degrees available, along with the PhD in nursing. Certified nurses that are looking to attain some of the highest level positions in their respective fields will often pursue a DNP. Unlike a PhD in Nursing, which is generally focused on scholarly research, a DNP consists of a focus on the clinical and practical application of nursing. This is why most DNP programs will tend to integrate a nurse practitioner specialization.

Where do they work?

For certified nurses who have obtained their Doctor of Nursing, the next step is to choose which position they wish to apply for to further their career path. Typically, a DNP will offer jobs in either administrative management or clinical practice capacity. Accepting a role at a hospital or clinic will commonly consist of roles pertaining to the management of other nurses, research and development, and providing patient care in a leadership position. Here are some career examples for what a nurse with a DNP can do.

Administrative and Educational

For DNP certified nurses, administrative positions can consist of multiple different key roles. From assuming executive leadership roles in nursing to utilizing scientific studies and data to directly affect a patient’s healthcare, the management workforce covers quite a bit of ground. Some examples include:

  • Health Care Executive
  • Nursing Faculty
  • Clinical Researcher
  • Lobbyist

Health Care Executive

Hospitals and most long-term care facilities have a very large number of employed physicians and staff, all within separate departments. These facilities operate with a sizeable infrastructure that requires trained and efficient management. Health care executives are medical service managers who help to coordinate and direct all of the health care services. This means that DNP nurse graduates will be involved with the day-to-day operations of the hospital or practice in an administrative capacity.

Nursing Faculty

For nursing faculty, nurses with a DNP will assume an instructive role in order to help further the education of their students. The conditions will vary depending on where the nurse is employed but can include responsibilities such as advising students and prospective nurses, as well as conducting research and publishing their work for submission to academic journals.

Clinical Researcher

Similar to those with a PhD in Nursing, DNP certified nurses may follow a focus on clinical research. Those who decide on a career in clinical research will seek to support or change a certain practice in order to improve health outcomes. This can range from the investigation of existing evidence to actually implementing new methodologies.

Health Care Lobbyist

DNP holders can pursue careers outside of hospitals and clinics. One such path is the health care lobbyist. Rather than being employed by a hospital or health care facility, these nurses can find jobs at government agencies or insurance companies. The aim of becoming a health care lobbyist is to impact and influence health care policy through regulations and legislation. This field is more ideally suited for DNP nurses who seek a career that is underlined by politics and the study of law.

Advanced Practice: Direct Patient Care

Nurses with DNPs that wish to be involved with direct patient and medical care can pursue a career in advanced clinical practice. This field involves acting as a practicing nurse to directly influence the outcomes of a patient’s health in the respective field of nursing. These jobs can be found in large hospitals or private homes. These are some examples of direct clinical practice careers.

  • Nurse Midwife
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Midwife

For a focus on providing health care services concerning reproduction, a nurse-midwife is a suitable career path for nurses with DNPs looking to help families going through pregnancies. It is commonly known that a midwife’s primary objective is to assist with births, but nurse-midwives actually specialize in providing counsel and care throughout the entire process. Even from conception to the post-pregnancy period, midwives can offer health care and counseling services. Other responsibilities include gynecological services, prescribing medication and educating the patient.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners collaborate with other healthcare professionals to supply a family with the care and services they need. Family care is an extensive field that requires advanced practice nurses with their DNP to have the ability to offer a broad range of services for the family. Services such as counseling and disease prevention are a few examples.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

According to data from the 2016 statistics by the AANP, approximately five percent of nurse practitioners in the US work in the field of psychiatric mental health. This field often entails medical and psychiatric diagnoses, prescribing psychotropic drugs and providing psychotherapy. Typically, most nurses in this field will focus on children or senior patients.